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  14.09.2006 Formalities: China
Date of Border Crossing 14.9.2006

Point of Entry

Torugart Pass coming from Kyrgyzstan

Passport and Visa Passport has to be valid for at least another 6 months and you need a visa to enter China. See Additional Information on how to get a visa for China in Ankara, Turkey.
We did not have a valid insurance for China. I am not sure if insurance was part of the paperwork they made out for us. Could very well be.
Drivers License
We were issued our very own Chinese driver licenses. They were valid only for the duration of our stay. In order to get them we had to hand in a copy of our International driver license as well as a copy of our Swiss driver license.
Motorcycle papers We were issued Chinese vehicle registration papers. These were only valid for the duration of our stay.
License plates
We were issued Chinese license plates. They looked quite cool. Unfortunately we had to hand them back in on leaving the country.
How it went

Getting into China over Torugart Pass turned out to be easier than we had thought. But then we had arranged for all the paperwork and the guide beforehand and we showed up on a Thursday when the border was open!
For the details on getting up to the Pass on the Kyrgyz side please check the Formalities Kyrgyzstan page.
Once we had finally made it up to the Pass it was already lunch time on the Chinese side so we were in for a bit of a wait. They made us wait on the Kyrgyz side of the border. Great view, but a little chilly. Finally the guide showed up. Actually it was three people who showed up: the guide who spoke English, the driver and the Manager of the agency!
Again it was a dusty ride down to the first Chinese checkpoint where they x-rayed all our luggage and checked all our books! I suggest you don't try bringing a bible into China!
The support car was great for that meant we were able to put our luggage in the car and drive light for a change! It was a great if really trying ride down to the border 75km further down the road. Lots of road construction going on so I maybe next summer the same ride will be really smooth on new tarmac. Let us know!
The border was a breeze. The manager of the agency took care of everything! All we had to do was some obscure health check, which had us look into some kind of machine. No idea what that thing actually checked! The manager was doing a lot of running around, but in the end we had the works: Chinese license plates, Chinese driver licenses, Chinese bike papers and a lot of  other documents in Chinese letters. One can only guess what their purpose served!

Point of Exit Kunjerab Pass to Pakistan
How it went
Whatever you do, show up early! And keep in mind that everybody else is doing the same thing. So show up even earlier!
We thought we had gotten an early start when we showed up at 08:30. Well the line was already incredibly long! It took forever! We had to take off all the luggage from the bikes and stand in line at the Customs building.
First as when we entered was the Health Check. Same obscure one as on entry. Luckily the machine did not object to us.
Then the luggage was x-rayed and we had to get in line for the passport check. Passport gets scrutinized thoroughly which takes forever! Finally we get an exit stamp and are allowed to drive the bikes to the back of the Customs building. There we retrieve our bags, load the bikes up and were about to leave. No such luck: they want the license plates back and generally just all have a good look at the bikes! Finally around noon we are on our way.
It is a great ride up to Kunjerab Pass. The road is a newly paved two lane highway that puts a lot of the pass roads in Switzerland to shame! Stunning scenery and easy riding. Once at the top the Chinese check the exit stamp in the passport and that is it: We are on top of Kunjerab Pass at 4'690 meters!
Additional Information

Getting a visa for China:

We got our Chinese visa in Ankara, Turkey. For those with GPS: N39 53.939 E32 52.385
The visa expires 3 months after the date of issue. Meaning you have to enter before that date and are then allowed as many days in the country as your visa is valid for.
We showed up at the Chinese embassy. We were able to get the visa forms from the security guard at the gate. So we filled out the forms, while we were waiting for the embassy to open. We handed in the forms and a passport picture each. We applied in June but had put the entry date for beginning of September. We knew this was cutting it close (3 months problem see above), but we were fairly confident in our planning So at first they did not want to accept the application, saying we should get the visa at a later date. We insisted and finally were told to come back in 3 days.
The visas were then issued without any further problems. We had to pay for them on the spot in US dollars. They were 30 US dollars each.

Getting permits for the vehicles:

To start with some bad news: As far as we know there is unfortunately no easy or cheap way to do this legally yet. We have heard about some motorcyclists who made it into China through the Druzhba-Alashankol (Kazakhstan-Chinese) border with only a Chinese visa. Check the forum at Horizons Unlimited for details (search for China).
 At the Torugart border the guards on the Kyrgyz side will not let you up to the Chinese border if you can't show proof that a guide and support vehicle is meeting you up at the pass. So if you want to go this way, you have to arrange for all the paperwork and the guide before hand through an agency. They will need from 10 to 30 days advance notice to get this set up.

We ended up having Caravan Cafe (  in Kashgar arrange for all the paperwork and guides. For the whole trip with two people and two motorcycles we paid USD 1500.- . They needed 30 days advance notice. The guys at Caravan Cafe are sometimes a bit slow in answering e-mail, but I have to admit in the end everything worked out great.

According to Caravan Cafe it is not possible to do Inter province travel with your own motorcycle inside China. Which was fine with us, since we wanted to go over Kunjerab Pass into Pakistan anyway. However I have another contact who says it can be done, however at a price and with at least three months advance notice.

!!!!!!!!!! ATTENTION !!!!!!!!!!

Do NOT use the following contact to set up your paperwork. This person is a trickster and has left various travelers stranded at the border!

cel phone-086-13369603122
skype user name: puzzled

Changing money:

Coming into China at Torugart:
There are plenty of  money changers once you finally make it down to the border. You will not need any money before that. Change leftover Kyrgyz currency here, since that is more complicated in Kashgar.
There is plenty of money changers in Kashgar. There is also a couple of ATM's there, but we couldn't get any of them to accept our cards!

Leaving China over Kunjerab Pass to Pakistan:
We changed all our left over Chinese money into Pakistani currency before leaving Tashkurgan. You don't need any Chinese money at the border and I think it would be difficult to change Chinese currency once in Pakistan. As a last resort the lone Pakistani guard at the top of Kunjerab may change money for you.

These are the details of the border crossing into this particular country. The information is correct as of the date on which the border was crossed. But, due to the stability and vagaries of the regimes involved, it is prudent that you get additional data directly from the embassy involved, in your own country. Also you should keep in mind that the procedure can vary depending on exactly who is on duty. So never assume anything is a particular way, and regardless of what anyone says, the impossible is often possible if you are in the right place at the right time. Good Luck.


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